Symptoms of Manic Depression

Manic depression, otherwise known as bipolar disorder, is a mental illness characterized by mood swings. Although treatable, there is no cure for manic depression. Living with someone who suffers from this disorder can be quite challenging. Manic depression can affect all areas of a person's life, including relationships. But manic depression can be manageable with proper treatment, patience and understanding.

Manic depression is most noted for the highs and lows of the characteristic mood swings. The periods of elation and depression can last for hours, days or even a couple of weeks. Symptoms of manic depression depend upon the phase of the condition, whether it be mania (high) or depression (low). The symptoms of mania may include increased energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, impatience, poor judgment, racing thoughts, talking excessively, rapid speech, inflated sense of self-esteem and aggressive behavior.
The symptoms of depression are fatigue, lack of energy, sadness, irritation, social withdrawal, lack of interest in usual activities, change in sleep patterns such as insomnia or sleeping too much, inability to experience pleasure, loss of appetite or overeating, low self-esteem, thoughts of death or suicide and anxiety.
The cause of manic depression remains uncertain, although it is believed to be an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. Manic depression may be hereditary, and it is likely that it is caused by several contributing factors rather than a single cause. There is no cure for this condition, although the symptoms may be treated with medication and therapy. Anyone of any age may develop manic depression, although the symptoms seem to manifest in the late teens or early twenties. The symptoms vary according to the individual, and the condition often appears as a mix of mania and depression, making it difficult to diagnose.
Manic depression or bipolar disorder, as it is more commonly known, is classified into two categories, referred to as Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Bipolar I is considered the more severe form of manic depression. People who suffer from this type of the disorder can hallucinate and become delusional. They may show signs of hyperactivity and the need to be in control.
Bipolar II disorder is the more common form, with patients exhibiting classic manic depression symptoms without psychotic episodes such as hallucinations or delusions.
Manic depression left untreated can have detrimental effects on a person's life. The condition can lead to substance abuse, accidental overdose or attempted suicide. Relationships with family members and loved ones can become strained. Marriages or romantic relationships may fail because the spouse or significant other simply cannot deal with the stress of the condition. A person who suffers from manic depression may have difficulty functioning in many areas of life such as the workplace. Manic depression can be an emotionally and mentally crippling disorder. It is imperative that those who suffer from this disorder get proper diagnosis and treatment.
With proper treatment, people who suffer from manic depression can lead functional, healthy lives. The condition is normally treated with medication known as mood stabilizers such as lithium. In addition, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are effective in dealing with manic depression. Family therapy as well as individual and social therapy can be helpful. Joining a support group can be beneficial for those who suffer from manic depression as well as their family members.
Expert Insight
If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of manic depression, it is important to seek medical assistance as early as possible. Manic depression is a serious but treatable condition that can have disastrous consequences if left untreated. It is important that the person who suffers from bipolar disorder understands that he is not alone. According to the World Health Organization, more than 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder, and it is the leading cause of mental disability in the world.